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The Art of Being Politically Correct

There was a time when a person could call a spade a spade, as he saw it. No longer. Society is now bound with rules about what one can and cannot say, think, and, increasingly, how one should and should not affiliate. You thought you had freedom of decision and action? Think again.

Google defines political correctness, or PC, as “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult”. Wikipedia identifies PC as “attempts to change social reality by changing language”, and lays its origin at the feet of “early-to-mid 20th century…Communists and Socialists…(who) provided for ‘correct’ positions on many matters of politics”. The term has bounced around and now roosts where it began—as a declaration of “correct” positions on civic and political matters. Interpretation: you will be told what to think and say.

The key point of PC is that we not offend anyone. (Never mind that it offends us to part with treasured inalienable rights.) Most of us want to be and are kind. (Not all, of course—you’ve heard that there are only a few nasty people; unfortunately, they move around a lot.) We like ourselves better, have better relationships, and are healthier, happier and more productive when we are kind to others.

Unfortunately, we aren’t talking about kindness, we are talking about government control of speech and opinion. It’s the compulsive element that’s hard to swallow: “I know what’s right, you don’t; and I will make you comply”. It’s the lack of personal agency in the face of social engineering; the censorship; the moral common sense that has gotten totally out of hand. It’s that somebody else—a philosophy, a group, a minority—imposes its version of right and wrong on others.

This is confusing. Didn’t we fight several wars for the right to freedom of thought and speech? Aren’t we spilling our youth-blood in far countries so others can have freedom of choice? Yet here that right is being stripped from us. We let our youth die for what is being taken from us by PC.

Michael Snyder, writing in American Dream August 14, 2013, says, “If you say the “wrong thing” in America today, you could be penalized, fired or even taken to court. Political correctness is running rampant, and it is absolutely destroying this nation.” He cites examples: A student at Sonoma State University, who was ordered to take off a cross she was wearing because someone “could be offended”; US military chaplains who face expulsion if they refuse to perform gay marriages; an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling that employers cannot discriminate against criminals because it has a “disproportionate” impact on minorities.

With fondness we reminisce about the Second Amendment. Ah, we remember it well: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” We were even trusted with religion then: “Congress shall make no law respecting…religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Tender, isn’t it—those rights we used to have? The Founders thought that, if left to ourselves, we would be good, decent people. Not so, today, when values and speech are dictated for us, like a doctor’s prescription, so we match acceptable standards. In our PC quest we have embraced hilarity: wrong = differently logical, dead = living impaired, body odor = nondiscretionary fragrance, dishonest = ethically disoriented, homeless = residentially flexible. Belly-laughs aside, PC misses this key point: laws in a fair government control only unethical actions, never beliefs and speech.

So what to do? The logical conclusion is to be kind, to always respect others. It is also to not be bullied by political correctness into giving up our rights to freedom of speech and belief. Our Founders created America for the right to think for ourselves. Our pioneer ancestors came here for freedom of belief and worship. Don’t give it up.

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